When Max Ferguson moved from CFPL radio in London, Ontario to
joined CBC Halifax, his first assignment was as host of a
half-hour cowboy music show called After Breakfast Breakdown. In
an attempt to conceal his identity on a "hillbilly"
show, he created his famous Rawhide character, who proceeded to
insult artists left, right, and centre. Instead of referring to
Hank Snow as the yodelling ranger, for example, he called him
Hank Snow, the yodelling Mongolian idiot. Hank being a native
Nova Scotian, that quickly became the first of many controversial
remarks that Max would make during the course of his career.
The character of Rawhide turned out to be so successful that a show entitled Rawhide followed. The theme was a lively rendition of the Clarinet Polka. On the program, Ferguson created little dramas by voicing all of the parts, and acting as his own sound effects man. The show satirized public figures and types, including an egotistical radio announcer whom Ferguson called Marvin Mellowbell, a rustic from the Ottawa valley named Arnprior, Prime Minister John Diefenbaker, and women's commentator Kate Aitken. His sketches were so popular, that several were recorded commercially.
In the early 1960's, Ferguson tired of Rawhide, and developed a new morning show. He retained many of his characters in order to create sketches based on the daily news, but his original Rawhide character was no more. The new show, which also featured the predictably unpredictable announcer, Alan McFee was called the Max Ferguson Show. Many of the familiar Rawhide players such as James Bannerman and Kate Aitken were replaced with imitations of current political figures. That show ran throughout the 1960's. In 1971, a 90-minute afternoon version of the Max Ferguson show was introduced. The show still featured Alan McFee, and included interviews with guests such as Charlie Farquharson, Ben Wicks, and many more.